In what would be one of the most ambitious space engineering projects ever, China hopes to build an orbiting solar power plant. China’s insatiable demand for renewable energy will see it turn to outer space as part of a plan that sounds straight out of science-fiction. According to China’s Science and Technology Daily (via The Sydney Morning Herald), scientists and engineers in the city of Chongqing are constructing an early experimental space power plant. A full-scale power plant would greatly exceed the capabilities of one on Earth as without the planet’s atmosphere it would receive six times the amount of solar energy and never be affected by a day/night cycle. A researcher from the China Academy of Space Technology Corporation, Pang Zhihao, said that the concept could provide “an inexhaustible source of clean energy for humans”. In concept, the orbiting power plant would convert the solar energy into electricity that would be beamed back to Earth using advanced photonics or through microwave transmission. Although the researchers admitted that the long-term ramifications of such a transmission to the Earth’s atmosphere and ecology will need to be studied further. In the meantime, the team in Chongqing is looking to build and launch… Read full this story
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